Magic Grind Out Ugly Win Over Bucks


After getting off to as good of a start as possible the Orlando Magic again let complacency set in and allowed the Bucks to get back into the game. The Magic wound up hanging on to win on the more ugly basketball games you will ever see, 78-72. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 18 points and 17 rebounds while Drew Gooden’s 18 points off the bench led the Bucks.

The Orlando Magic got off to a fantastic start, scoring the first 14 points of the game. The Magic got a little too comfortable and let up a little as the quarter went on (mostly due to their six turnovers) but still had a 26-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Magic went 11-of-20 (55.0%) from the field in opening quarter while holding the Bucks to just 5-of-18 (27.8%) in the quarter). The Magic also grabbed 17 rebounds to Milwaukee’s five. The Magic let the Bucks cut the lead to as little as six in the second quarter before pushing it back to nine at the break. The Magic scored just 16 points on 2-of-14 shooting in the period. They did manage to get to the line 17 times and hit 12 to save themselves from complete embarrassment.

After Brandon Bass scored the opening bucket of the third quarter, the Bucks went on a 10-2 run, cutting the lead to 46-43.  The Bucks cut the lead to as little as two before the Magic quickly pushed the lead back to six. A terrible foul on Drew Gooden by Dwight Howard at the end of the quarter allowed the Bucks to cut the lead back to two at the end of the third quarter. They scored 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting. The Magic wee 8-of-30 from the field in the second and third quarters combined. It looked like Orlando may pull away when they built a 70-64 lead with just 4:26 to play but the Bucks responded with an 8-2 run to tie the game with under two minutes to go.  Jameer Nelson hit a long jumper to break the 72-72 tie, and then got a steal leading to a Turkoglu jumper. Howard’s two free throws closed the game out.

After the jump, you can read more thoughts, quotes and observations from the game.

Overall, the Magic were terrible on offense. They finished by shooting just 26-of-67 (38.8%) from the field, 2-of-21 (9.5%) from beyond the arc and 24-of-36 (66.7%) from the free throw line.

“It was a very frustrating night offensively,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We didn’t shoot well, we didn’t move the ball well, and we didn’t make free throws.”

Van Gundy, with the help of Orlando Sentinel writer Brian Schmitz, later compared the game to Monday night’s national championship game between Connecticut and Butler, which many are referring to as the worst title game in the history of sports.

It was quite that bad (no one shot 18.8% from the field like Butler) but it sure was ugly for an NBA game.

As bad as the offense was, Van Gundy wasn’t upset. In fact, he was pleased because he thought the Magic gave a great effort and got important stops when they needed to.

“I thought our guys played really really hard,” Van Gundy said. We got a lot of stops down the stretch and you know, that was good.”

Turnovers were a huge issue again. If it wasn’t for Orlando’s six first quarter turnovers, they could have built a much bigger lead than 14 (and 12 at the end of the quarter).  The Magic finished with 21 turnovers but had their best quarter turnover-wise in the decisive fourth quarter.

Those 21 turnovers were a season-high.

“I’m sure it was hard to watch,” Van Gundy admitted. “I know it was for me, it was for our players even, it was a frustrating night but they hung in there and got the win. At that point, that’s all that matters.”

Dwight Howard didn’t have a big scoring night because of a solid Bucks defense and a strategic reduction in minutes (but he still played 39 minutes).  Of course, the big man still managed to score 18 points despite an average shooting night (5-of-10 from the field) by going 8-of-13 from the free throw line. He also was his usual self on the defensive end, holding Andrew Bogut to just two points and getting him into foul trouble (Bogut picked up five fouls and played just 27 minutes). Howard also had another huge night on the glass, grabbing 17 rebounds.

Jameer Nelson didn’t have a very efficient shooting night (17 points on 7-of-16 shooting) but he was the guy who made big plays down the stretch, hitting a tie-breaking shot and then coming up with a steal that wound up leading to the game-clinching shot by Hedo Turkoglu.

After the game, Van Gundy said he was going to try to adjust the minutes of his players while still having them remain in situations they’ll be in rotation-wise during the postseason.

Van Gundy still admitted the Magic have a lot of work to do.

“We can’t play like this,” Van Gundy said of the playoffs. That’s clear. We know that. And hopefully we won’t because you won’t win in the playoffs playing like that.”

Next Up: The Magic will travel to Charlotte to take on the Bobcats Wednesday night.

Final Thought: It certainly wasn’t pretty but the Magic gave a good effort and clinched the four seed in the east.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).